Summary: Considers the reality of Heaven - evidence of it, and why that affects the way we live now

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(Show clip from BluefishTV – “Spiritual tots, Colonik’s got ‘em!”)

Even if they’re unsure of it, most people want to believe in Heaven, and most people have some concept of it.

TIME took a poll 10 years ago, and 81% of the people they surveyed said they believed in the existence of Heaven, where people lived forever with God after they die.

Still, there’s that other 19%...

Robert Ingersoll was an atheist. He was a famous anti-Christian propagandist and orator in the days after the Civil War. Once, in front of a large crowd, Ingersoll pulled out his pocket-watch and gave God 5 minutes. “Strike me dead, or be disproved,” he said. After all, didn’t the Bible record where God struck men dead for blasphemy? "Then let me do that now!" Holding his watch, he blasphemed God, then counted off the minutes. The crowd counted too, as one minute went by; then 2,3,4,5... When nothing happened, Ingersoll snapped his watch shut. "There! You see! There is no God or I would be dead!" When a Joseph Parker, a British preacher heard about it, he said, “And did the American gentleman think he could exhaust the patience of God in 5 minutes?"

Ingersoll was a friend of Phillips Brooks, the man who wrote “O, Little Town of Bethlehem.” When Brooks became seriously ill, he requested that none of his friends come to visit him. But, when his friend Robert Ingersoll, the atheist, came to see him, he let him come in right away. Ingersoll told him, “I appreciate this very much. Especially when you aren’t letting any of your close friends see you.” Brooks said, “Oh, I’m confident of seeing them in the next world, but this may be my last chance to see you.”

Robert Ingersoll died at the age of 65, 1899. Notices of his death were printed in all the major newspapers of New England, and in every one, as part of the funeral notice, there was a single, very ironic, line: "There will be no music."

I’m confident, Robert Ingersoll is now a believer.

I’m going to keep reminding us – understanding about Heaven, and meditating on Heaven, will affect the way we live our entire lives!

The discussion of Heaven we’re engaging in this morning has to do with one of the important basics. The reality of Heaven has been challenged by people for centuries. I hope to present some helps for that. I feel challenged by the enormity of the task. But, if I completely fail at this, there’s still good news: one day, the question of the reality of Heaven is going to be settled for everyone.

Alfred North Whitehead, former Harvard professor - “Can you imagine anything more appallingly idiotic than the Christian idea of heaven?”

Whitehead is now a believer.

Bertrand Russell, was an atheist and a Nobel literature prize winner in 1950 - “There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere; only triviality for a moment – then nothing.”

Russell is now a believer.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair - "There is no God. There’s no heaven. There’s no hell. There are no angels. When you die, you go in the ground, the worms eat you."

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